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Yemeni Qaeda chief warns jihad will intensify

world Updated: May 11, 2011 15:16 IST

The leader of Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch has warned that jihad will become more "intense and harmful" after the killing of Osama bin Laden by US commandos, SITE monitoring group reported on Wednesday.

Nasir al-Wahishi, leader Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a statement posted on an Islamist website that the "ember of jihad is brighter" following the May 2 death of bin Laden, the US-based group said.

"Do not think of the battle superficially ... What is coming is greater and worse, and what is awaiting you is more intense and harmful," Wahishi said, according to a translation given by SITE.

He warned Americans not to fool themselves that the "matter will be over" with the killing of bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda.

"We promise Allah that we will remain firm in the covenant and that we will continue the march, and that the death of the sheikh will only increase our persistence to fight the Jews and the Americans in order to take revenge," Wahishi said.

The US has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Islamist militancy in Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral homeland, and has warned of the potential for the country to become a regrouping ground for Al-Qaeda.

Four days after bin Laden was killed in a US commando raid on his Abbottabad compound, about two hour's drive from Islamabad, a US drone attack targeted US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi in southern Yemen.

The cleric, whom the US says has strong links to Al-Qaeda, survived the attack in southern Yemen but two AQAP members were killed.

In January 2009, the Saudi and Yemeni Al-Qaeda branches announced their merger to form the Yemen-based AQAP, which later went on to claim a failed attempt to bomb Detroit-bound US airliner in December 2009.

Wahishi in his eulogy said bin Laden was killed "while his hand was on the trigger, fighting the enemies of Allah without tiring or surrendering."

"He was killed while remaining firm and not changing or altering, as he continues according to the covenant of the believers."

He stressed that the torch will pass from bin Laden to others who will keep up his work for generations.

"Let the enemies of Allah know that we are determined to take revenge."

Al-Qaeda formally acknowledged bin Laden's killing four days after he was killed and his body buried at sea.